IT’S BRILLIANT: How To Choose And Build Upon A Great Story Concept In Three Simple Steps

T. Cole Willonay Idea Cove Leave a Comment

Writing a novel takes a lot of work, anywhere from one month (if luck will out) to a year or more, so it's no wonder writers are often left wondering if the concept they have in mind is even worth their time.

Been there, harassed myself over that!

From now on, I want an easy way to know for sure, after one day's worth of work, whether or not my concept is worth pursuing, and so I've created the BRILLIANT strategy: three steps to deciding whether or not my crazy story concepts are worth my time.

Does it whisper to you in the night just before you fall into slumberland?

Does it woo you away from your day-to-day life and into a whimsical world that only you can see?

Does it demand that you write even one sentence in its name, if only for you and your eyes to enjoy?



If it scores at least 3 out of 4 BRILLIANT points, then I give it a Scrivener folder of its own and get to work on building it out. If not, I see where, if at all, I can bring it up to snuff, or I set it aside entirely and move onto something else.

  • Unique Concept

Are there any other stories like it?

  • Attention Grabber

Does it keep calling you back to its storyline shores?

  • Relatable

Even if it's fantasy, is the story something you can connect to?

  • Full Of Emotion

Is it dripping with brawls or epiphanies?


Spill all the spoils, reveal all of the magic! Now's the time to unleash your story concept in a frenzy of cause and effect so you can clearly see what you're working with.

Keep it bare, keep it simple, create mystery and then solve it immediately with resolution.

This step is for your eyes only, so do what you must to digest what you're working with.

Even if you're a pantsing professional, creating a one page synopsis helps to strengthen the story by honing your understanding of it.


Write a short, sweet, captivating back cover synopsis for your story. Something you'd see on the back cover of the book were you to publish it in the future.

Be sure to eliminate all spoilers and unnecessary exposition! This step is about knocking the concept back to bones, giving the reader as little as possible for the sake of you understanding the mystery behind your story.

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